DVDTalk attends South by Southwest Part Two
DVDTalk attends South by Southwest Part Two
exclusive coverage by Neil Lumbard
Day Three Write-Up:
When it came time to see films on my third day of the festival I ran into a bit of bad luck early on in the day. I had fully intended on seeing the premiere of the Conan O’Brien documentary film aptly titled Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop and yet I wasn’t able to make it into the audience for that one. I did hear that the film itself was excellent and a bit more heartfelt and serious in parts than audience members were expecting. The film chronicles Conan’s fallout with NBC late-night. Later in the day I spoke to someone who did attend and learned that Conan was actually in attendance after the film was over and that he gave a surprisingly less-comedic discussion of the events that happened and his response to it all after the film was over. The overall buzz I was hearing in Austin was that the film was a success and worth checking out. If I can somehow manage to get a screener copy to review, I will go that route to try and cover the film some more but I can’t necessarily make any guarantees in the direction. However, I am positive this was one of the more special screenings held at SXSW 2011 and was naturally disappointed to miss it as a fan of Conan O’Brien.
I did make it to the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar to see
Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams,
which was not a premiere or Q&A-included screening but was the
Austin, TX if I am not mistaken. This new documentary by the famed
was essentially about ancient caves that were recently discovered to
of the oldest cave drawings still preserved in history. If you can
(and if you are a Herzog fan as I am, I know you will) this was a hard
get into. I arrived to the screening earlier (as per usual) and was one
last three people to be allowed into the theater. Literally, only two
folks got into the screening room after I did to see this film, before
theater manager had to start turning people away. Luckily the film had
two additional screenings at later dates but this was the one and only
screening time I could make, so it was especially important to me that
All that you need to do is visit the website www.sxswcares.org to make a donation today to bring aid to Japan!
After the 13 Assassins
screening was over the fun wasn’t even close to ending for the day. There would soon be what I would essentially
dub as a ‘double feature’ of sorts with the North American premiere of
Mottola’s Paul and a special “Work in
Progress” screening of Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids .
The Rest of the Festival -- OR -- The Breakdown of My Coverage:
There are only a few more specifics aspects of my attendance at the SXSW film festival that I feel are worth making a special note of right now. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the entire week long festivities and screenings but for the time I did spend at SXSW it was one of the most memorable and special experiences I have ever had the opportunity to be involved in. Getting to do this coverage truly felt like a gift, and I hope that many of you have enjoyed getting to read my thoughts on the experiences I have had with this festival.
Early in the morning (following Bridesmaids) I was able to attend a private run-through screening of Tom McCarthy’s WIN WIN. The film stars Paul Giamatti as a struggling attorney who also works as a high school wrestling coach. When he meets a young athlete who could be a game-changer things start to change for the better for the team – but what is happening to the boy’s family and to his own life? This was unquestionably my favorite film of the SXSW festival that I was able to attend. Tom McCarthy has long been one of my favorite film-makers and this did nothing to change the high opinion I hold him in. So, you might be wondering why I didn’t attend the normal premiere. I had to see the film early in order to do a 1:1 interview with Tom McCarthy about the film. This ends is disappoint though – at least for now – as things didn’t work out for this interview either (just as things didn’t work out with Takashi Miike). After getting some breakfast and doing some SXSW souvenir shopping at American Apparel (where I purchased both a ball-cap and hoodie) I arrived early in the afternoon for the interview and ended up being told that I had just barely missed him. The PR individuals I spoke to informed me that there must have been some kind of mix-up with the schedule as they didn’t see me on the list. Instead, they had me pegged as a part of a round-table interview with the cast and Tom McCarthy earlier in the day. This was disheartening as that was what I had initially set-up with my contact regarding WIN WIN, but as I hadn’t seen the film yet and preferred a 1:1 with McCarthy over a slice of the pie in a multi-site discussion I had to pick one over the other. Naturally, I wouldn’t be able to interview the writer/director of the film without having seen it first. I l slowly left the hotel where the interview would have taken place feeling disheartened. I had even brought a copy of McCarthy’s The Visitor on Blu-ray to get an autograph after our scheduled interview (and to think I was having some regrets at the time for not bringing my copy of his debut film The Station Agent for a autograph as well). Before I had left the building though, those I spoke to regarding the PR assured me a 1:1 phone-interview would be set-up in place of the in-person interview session. When I arrived back at my hotel I checked my e-mails and found one telling me that Tom McCarthy had someplace important to go to and had to leave early, thus my interview would need to be scheduled for a different date/time. After responding to this message and inquiring into the phone interview option I haven’t actually heard back yet which is disappointing. However, I’m holding out hope that an interview with one of my favorite film-maker’s may still happen. It would truly be wonderful to be able to bring an interview with McCarthy to DVDTalk. Fingers crossed, but at this moment in time I can’t make a guarantee.
I had planned on seeing Mike Mills Beginners in the evening and I was going to participate in a roundtable multi-site discussion with the writer/director the following day but I ended up essentially passing out, sleeping, and not waking up in time for the film. I tried to make it there in time and just didn’t manage it. Beginners was unquestionably one of my most anticipated films playing during the festival and I feel dissatisfied by my inability to bring a review of the film at this point in time, but it wasn’t something I could really change at that point. I ended up having to contact the PR contact I had been talking to about the roundtable to explain to him how I wasn’t able to participate in that interview.
Guillermo Del Toro (right) and Harry Knowles (left) at the 15th Anniversary AICN Screening
Guillermo Del Toro has long been one of my favorite film-makers so being able to actually see him in person as he spoke to our audience about his apparent fan-boy love for Dragonslayer and, for that matter, films in general was a true joy and one of the highlights of the entire festival. Del Toro talked a lot about how he appreciated the score and special effects. He noted a moment when the dragon in the film has a moment of rage in his eyes – and how the audience is meant to sympathize with the dragon in this scene. He described it as a moment in the film where the film-maker would have had to fight to include it in the final cut, and said that if he wanted to put a scene like that in a film of his own so that audiences were meant to view multiple sides to the ‘bad guy’ that it would be a battle to include it, because studios usually want clear good vs. evil and not lines that are blurred between showing good and bad in people or ‘monsters’, such as the dragon, at the same time. Del Toro also said something about sympathizing with the monsters in films most of the time. He talked about how the Dragonslayer film had a big impact on him and how he didn’t think he would be making movies if it were not for films like it, because it opened his eyes to the possibilities of what could be done in cinema in a way that appealed to him personally. He liked that it had nudity, violence, and drew sympathy to the dragon because it wasn’t something he was used to seeing in PG rated films. He described kids today as being unable to see films like this and said people are too neutered in wanting to make movies that won’t offend anyone – and referenced Rango as an example of a PG rated film that kids see today. He said he didn’t feel kids today who only see PG rated movies like Rango would grow up to be film-makers, certainly not film-makers like him, if it is all they are exposed to at an earlier age in life. Harry Knowles then asked him if he would let kids see his own films. Del Toro laughed and basically gave a flat out ‘no’ response. He said that some of his films, like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, were not intended for kids to see, but that he could probably have seen Pan’s Labyrinth when he was 11 or 12. But that it would scar most kids at that age for life. Harry Knowles pointed out a female family member who had seen Pan’s Labyrinth at age 12. Del Toro then turned to her in the audience and apologized to her for scarring her for life and many laughs were had in the audience. Unfortunately though, it seemed as if a lot of the people attending did not get Del Toro’s humor or as if many people were simply overwhelmed by seeing him in person because for much of his jokes and charming demeanor it was probably only a small group of people truly getting his humor and laughing out loud. I was amongst that group, I’m proud to say that, but it was slightly odd that more people did not seem as enchanted by his entertaining conversational tone. There was more said by Del Toro, by the way, but I’m not going to mention everything – definitely not – I encourage strongly that if you have been reading my coverage for the festival and found any of it exciting that you seek out more information about the festival at SXSW.com and look into attending next year to get a close and personal piece of the fun! It’s one of the most thrilling events I have ever been able to participate in. Hands down – It was absolutely an experience I won’t forget, and I encourage others to attend. Even if you can’t get a badge to the events they still sell stand-buy tickets if extra seating is left for showings and those tickets are only $10 a show. If you’re an Austin resident you especially owe it to yourself to give some of these events at least a shot. It’s completely worth experiencing first-hand!
Before I forget to mention this – getting FREE
FOOD was a
blessing during SXSW. There were a number of restaurants offering food
to SXSW badge holders throughout the downtown area from the likes of
barbecue. I even snagged a free breakfast one day. This was actually
important to me because between trying to catch various screenings and
the venues it sometimes made it difficult to get into some of the
wanted to go to during my stay in Austin and this helped me somewhat in
me on track more frequently than I would have been otherwise. I’m not
do specific shout-outs to these vendors but will say that It’ perfect
in that if I ever find myself living in Austin, TX I will make an
effort to actually
go to these places and buy meals from them regularly now. I am also
is true for other festival attendees. Smart move!
The Area of Many Amazing Poster Art Designs at the Austin Convetion Center = Astounding View!
OK folks, on that last itty-biddy note, that concludes my main coverage of events and screenings attended but it also doesn’t mean the end of the coverage altogether. I still have plenty of reviews to write for one. As soon as those start appearing on DVDTalk you can look forward to reading about my reactions to films and I will link to the reviews on here shortly as well.
I am also in contact still for interviews with Tom
regarding WIN WIN, and even recently
with Aaron Burns regarding blacktino –
one of the total surprise wonders of the festival for me. We shall see
happens in that regard. I’m still hopeful I can bring some interviews
wonderful people but only time will tell what happens. Stay tuned.
I just heard from the WIN WIN PR team that I will
be conducting a phone interview with Tom McCarthy on 3/24. This
obviously falls outside of SXSW but look forward to the interview soon!
The Lowdown on the
Best/Worst of the Festival*
DVD Talk Interview: Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
DVD Talk Interview: Adam West - Back to Batman
Getting Weird with People of Earth
DVD Talk Interview: Brat Pack America - Kevin Smokler